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Nimble OS 2.3 – vSphere Web Client Integration

rfenton4

by Rich Fenton

Todays blog in the Detailed Exploration into Nimble OS 2.3 series, we will explore the new integration to the VMware vSphere Web Client.

Nimble Storage has a long history of integrating into vSphere Management framework, starting with basic vCenter integration in Nimble OS 1.4, through to last years revamped thick client update,  which I blogged an overview and technical deep dive as part of our 2.1 blog series update.  This latest update provides deeper integration to the latest vSphere web client.

What is the vSphere Web Client? 

In vCenter 5.5, VMware introduced the web-based client (Next Generation Client) to facilitate management of the vSphere infrastructure.  Rather than being based on the C# thick client, the new client is based on Adobe Flex and Java and runs directly from your browser.  The new web client is not a direct replacement for the traditional vCenter thick client which every vAdmin had used previously and is still available.  However, specific functionality that was introduced in vSphere 5 & 6 could only be managed via the new Web Client (e.g, Distributed vSwitches, VVols). Therefore if a vAdmin was using these features (and by extension the new web client) then they would have to switch between the traditional thick client, in order to manage their Nimble objects and the web client to manage the new VMware features: Which was far from ideal!  Nimble OS 2.3 introduces direct integration to web client allowing you to manage your Nimble storage platform directly within vCenter thick client or web-based client.

Which client should I use?

Really the choice is personal preference.  If you prefer the traditional GUI and have no need to manage the new functionality introduced in vSphere 5 and vSphere 6 then the thick client plugin will work in the same manner as it did with Nimble OS 2.1 and Nimble OS 2.2.  If however your preference is to use the Web Client / Next Generation Client, then registering via 2.3 will allow you to run the Nimble integration from the web client.  Of course if your using or planning to use the latest vSphere features then the web client is the way to go!

What are the requirements?

From a vCenter perspective, you need to be running vCenter 5.5 update 1 (both the vCenter Appliance and Windows Server version are supported)

From a Nimble perspective, your array/group needs to be running Nimble OS 2.3.x.

So what's changed? Surely, it looks and feels the same as the original thick client?

Not quite! The framework has changed so the rest of this blog will focus on how the Nimble integration looks in the new web client.

Firstly, the registration process is identical to the previous versions of Nimble OS, click on Administration > vCenter Plugin

FlexPlugin1.jpg

and then enter your hostname and credentials of your vCenter Server / Appliance and click Register:

FlexPlugin2.jpg

Note: this will register both the Thick Client and the Web Client to vCenter.  If you prefer you can just register the Thick Client or the Web Client by using the Nimble Command Line Interface using the:

vmplugin --register --client  {web | thick}

You can then login to the web client by navigating and providing your credentials to:

https://<vCenter Hostname | IP Address>:9443


Gotcha: If your already logged into the web client, you will need to logout and back in for the new Nimble components to load, as third party components only initially get loaded by the Web Client at login time!

The first thing you'll notice is the Nimble Group tab no longer exists.  My first mistake when I initially registered the plugin was to think that I didn't correctly register the plugin (as the tab I was expecting to see was missing).  Therefore within the Web Client you will no longer see this type of view:


Thick Client View:

FlexPlugin3.jpg



Instead the plugin is natively integrated to the web client and embedded into the VMware functionality.  Clicking on a datastore (and specifically a datastore that is provisioned via a Nimble device) will now show details about that datastore from vCenter and that information is supplemented with data from the Nimble plugin.  For example the view below is showing native VMware datastore information, in addition to the details around the Volume and Space that is coming from the Nimble plugin.


FlexPlugin4.jpg


If the volume is not provisioned to Nimble Best Practices (for example, Nimble Connection Manager is not installed or perhaps the Path Selection Policy is incorrect for the datastore, then the plugin will alert and ask you to fix it):


FlexPlugin6.jpg


Clicking the hyperlink here will fix the issue to the recommended best practice!


Clicking on the Monitor/Performance tab will reveal an overview of vSphere performance counters and a plugin extension to show counters from the Nimble Array (here IOPS and latency is shown but the scroll bar allows more statistics are available):


FlexPlugin5.jpg


Finally the Connections show which Initiators are connected to this Datastore:


FlexPlugin7.jpg


and Replication tab shows any destination Arrays where this datastore is being replicated to and the current SLA and transfer progress.


Clicking on the Manage > Snapshots tab allows the vAdmin to view how this datastore is being protected, view/delete snapshots and also create or clone a new volume from a particular snapshot:


FlexPlugin8.jpg


In context Management options

When clicking on a datastore you can also right click the datastore or click More Actions dialogue and this shows all the actions that can performed on this specific datastore, within the Nimble Storage Actions extension, these workflows are identical to the workflows in the 2.1 plugin and are relatively self-explanatory. I won't detail each workflow here but the video at the end of the blog will show each option.

FlexPlugin9.jpg


Finally, right clicking on the Datacentre with the Web Client allows the vAdmin to create a new datastore. 


FlexPlugin10.jpg


Again the workflow will guide you through the settings and will mount to each of the required ESX hosts, creating the VMFS filesystem and logging as it goes. The one difference with 2.3 however, is that Encryption at Rest is supported (as discussed in a blog post by Jeff Feierfeil here):


FlexPlugin11.jpg


Below is a video of the integration in a lot more detail.

Video Link : 1182

Please post any questions or comments that you have below.





About the Author

rfenton4

Comments
ron_fisher

Still waiting for VMware to give up on the web client and stick with the tried and true C# client. Hate = Web client :-)

rfenton4

LOL thanks for the comment Ron 


ron_fisher

And if you thought I was alone in these feelings.. here ya go! vSphere Web Client SUCKs so bad that my experie... | VMware Communities

410 replies

ndyer39

If it's any consolation, it's quite a bit better in vSphere 6.....

jwagner137

This does not work in VMware 5.5...  We show no nimble information. When I contacted support they said the VMware webclient didn't work with nimble.

When was this supposed to have been fixed?

It used to work for us and then one of the updates ended up breaking it.

ndyer39

Hello John,

Are you running NimbleOS 2.3? It believe it should run fine in vSphere 5.5 - can you provide the support case ID please?

jwagner137

Nick,

It was an old case. I'm currently running 2.2.7

If this issue is resolved after this release i'll get cracking and update mine asap.

thanks for the info..

ndyer39

Hi John,

vSphere Web Client support for Nimble integration was only introduced as part of NimbleOS 2.3 (which is what this blog post is detailing). Any earlier software releases will not have any integration with the Web Client, it would use the "Thick" or C Client only.

jwagner137

Ah, That's on me. I should have read the title.. (DOH)

in any event when is 2.3 coming out?  It does not show up on either of my nimble arrays yet.

ndyer39

2.3 is in the finishing stages of RC (it's available now if you want it). Else 2.3.4.0 is most likely going to be the GA code and we're hoping for it to drop to whitelisted storage systems in August.

zumasyslewis105

Any reason why there isn't an option to shrink the datastore in the plug-in?

rfenton4

Hey Lewis,

The Nimble volume can be shrink however the restriction is resizing the underlying filesystem and whether that supports it.

VMWare don't currently support dynamically shrinking a datastore - the way to accomplish this is to Storage vMotion off to a new resized datastore and then deleting it.

Of course if it's thin provisioned then there shouldn't be any material impact to have an oversized volume.

Cheers

Rich

zumasyslewis105

Hey Rich,

That makes sense.  I mostly work with NFS datastores, so I didn't even think about VMFS limitation before asking my question.  Thanks!

speed8888122

Hey Rich do you know if vCenter 6.0 and Web Client 6.0 is supported with the vCenter Plugin ?

Thanks.

rshekar42

Hi,

The web client plugin is available in the 2.3.x releases.

james_c_stein42

Just updated my arrays to 2.3.9.2 from 2.2.10 and it is now working vCenter 6.0 Appliance web client.

I did have to re-register to plugin to my vCenter server.

cjeter55

hmm interesting. I upgraded our array yesterday. I had to re-register with VC also but I'm not able to get the plugin data to show up in the web client. I can see that the plugin is registered though in VC. It is working on the C client. We are using the VCSA are you on a windows install?

james_c_stein42

No I am using the appliance. What version of the VCSA are you running?

I just upgraded to 6.0.0.10200 Build Number 3343022 last night and its still working properly. I expected I would have to re-register but I did not.

cjeter55

2776510

ndyer39

It could be to do with the user role or group you are logged in as, potentially?

There are no compatibility issues of the Nimble plugin for either VCSA or Windows installation for vSphere 5 or 6 from what I know (or think I know!). Might be worth giving support a call - if you do, and manage to find the resolution, please post the result here!

cjeter55

when in doubt blame the firewall . After some tinkering I started thinking about why the fat client plugin would work but the web client wouldn't. Which lead me to were the connections were coming from. The vcenter hosting the web client didn't have access to the arrays over 443. The web client was unloading the plugin when it wasn't able to connect. In short 2.3 introduces some new firewall requirements for the web client plugin and also for VMVision. In the case of VMvision the array needs to be able to connect to each esxi host's management address over 443 to pull perf data.

Edit: changed VMview to VMvision

rshekar42

Hi Chris,

Thanks for sharing your findings!

The communication path is indeed different between the thick client plugin and the web client plugin.

Thick Client: The vCenter Client launches the Nimble plugin in a browser on the desktop where client is running. The browser connects to array.

Web Client: The browser which loads the webclient connects the vCenter server. A plugin module running on the vCenter server connects to the array.

The port requirement is mentioned in the VMware Integration Guide: "All firewall ports (usually port 443) blocking the communications between the Windows machine that is hosting vCenter and the array must be opened."

Regarding VMview, did you mean VM Vision which is part of InfoSight?

Thanks,

Raj.

cjeter55

ahh yes, I did indeed mean VMvision. I edited my post. Thanks for the catch.

rshekar42

Hi Chris,

VM Vision perf data collection communicates only with the vCenter server. It does not connect directly to the ESXi hosts.

From ASUP data, it looks like VMVision was not working when the array was running 2.2.5, and started working after upgrade to 2.3.9. Looking to see why ...

cjeter55

hmm when I was work with support they ssh'd into the controllers and we could see timeouts trying to fetch data over https from each esxi host in one of the logs. Perhaps it wasn't for VMvision? Here is what one of the drops from our firewall logs looked like

controller-a-diag-address -> esxi-host-management-ip:443 -> drop

rshekar42

AutoSupport process collects VMware configuration info from vCenter and ESXi logs from each host. It could be the log collection that was failing. The log collection is not essential for VM Vision to work.

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